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5 Questions Professional Relationship Builders Ask To Connect With Anybody (And Move Beyond Chit-Chatting)

5 Questions Professional Relationship Builders Ask To Connect With Anybody (And Move Beyond Chit-Chatting)
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Building relationships is important to all aspects of our lives, both inside and outside of the workplace. The ability to build meaningful relationships with others is important for a variety of reasons, and in today’s environment you cannot just sit back and hope others will simply approach you. You need to be proactive, attend social events, swap contact information, and network to get to where you want to be.

Depending upon your personality type, the types of questions to ask when you first meet someone and wish to build a relationship with them may vary. However, there are a few areas that should be covered in your conversation so that you can have a meaningful discussion and get to know the other person on a deeper level. This recent article by Business Insider highlights some successful networking strategies that include the importance of getting to know the other person and finding common ground.

How do you make the transition from casual chatting to actually building a relationship with someone? Here are five questions to help you get started:

What inspired you to pursue this area of business?

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Finding out what inspired someone to pursue a particular area of business provides insight into his or her goals, interests, and passions. Chances are this person is working in their career field because it is what they love or have always wanted to do. Asking this question will help you to take a deeper look into their motivation.

Talking about inspiration in business is becoming more and more common. In fact, LinkedIn has a whole series titled “What Inspires Me” that taps into the motivation that keeps LinkedIn Influencers going. I am very passionate about my business and love talking about how I got started. I enjoy connecting with other individuals who are entrepreneurs and talking about their story as well. It helps to build a common ground between us.

What are your hobbies?

This is a simple, yet important question to ask when getting to know another person. Having information about their hobbies provides insight into their life outside of the office. You might also learn about a shared hobby or connection with your new contact. While it’s important to understand another individual’s work goals and motivations, learning about their personal interests provides an opportunity for relaxed conversation over a topic that they will be willing to open up about. In my experience, I have found that discussing hobbies with another individual is a great way to build a deeper connection with them. Often times you will learn of a shared hobby or skill, and this will create an opportunity for a stronger conversation. In addition to this, some people are lucky enough to turn their hobby into a job.

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Did you find someone who enjoys golf as much as you do? Invite them out to play a round of golf and continue the conversation during this time. You never know what this outing may lead to.

What is the biggest challenge you face in business?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the other person’s problems. No matter where you are or what your line of business, you will face challenges both big and small. According to an article in Entrepreneur, growing revenue, hiring employees, and increasing profit are all challenges for businesses, and many entrepreneurs, including myself, agree with this.

Talking about challenges creates common ground in business. For example, the individual you are talking to may have a hard time finding the right employees, and perhaps you have a tip that can help them. Maybe you can provide a solution to their situation or refer them to someone who can help. This teaches that person that you are someone they can trust, which will help them open up to you later.

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What is the area of your business that you are focused on expanding?

Often times, the end goal of building relationships in business is to form a mutually beneficial partnership and provide one another with leads, customers, and potential partners. Because of this, understanding the goals of the person you are talking to is critical. What do they want? Who is their target partner? What are their ideas for expanding their business?

I have specific areas of my business and services that I am focused on expanding in both the near future and within the next few years, and I know everyone has something they would like to improve and grow in their career. Every business should have a plan in place for growth – finding out theirs is simply a matter of engaging in a meaningful conversation and getting to the bottom of their long-term goals and desires.

What is the one legacy you would like to leave behind?

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This question provides an opportunity for a work connection and personal connection. Asking this question will give you the chance to see what is truly important to the person you are talking to, and I think this is highly necessary for building a successful relationship with someone. No matter who you are or where you are in life, everyone has a legacy that they would like to leave behind. What is yours and how do you plan on achieving it?

These conversation starters will help provide you with information about another person’s desires, motivation, and future goals and will allow you to form a deeper relationship and connection with them. When striking up conversation with the other person and asking questions that build a trusting relationship, it is important to remember not to be distracted. Separate yourself from technology or any other barriers so you can truly be in the moment and get to know the other individual.

Featured photo credit: Photo Credit: www.flazingo.com via flickr.com

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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